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R18+ rating for computer games a step closer

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Australia is a step closer to an R18+ rating for computer games after the Federal Government released draft guidelines that would support the move.

The document was distributed to the state and territory classification ministers ahead of their July meeting which could decide the creation of the new rating.

The battle for an R18+ rating to put games on an equal footing with other forms of entertainment has been raging for years. 

Released by Minister for Justice Brendan O’Connor, the draft guidelines are aimed at providing some direction to the issue and assist in the decision-making process.

Under the current laws, any game which fails to make the MA15+ standard either has to be changed to fit the classification or refused classification.

The argument behind the gaming industry push for an R18+ classification is that it would make even clearer for parents and children the types of games which are suitable for various ages.

Australia is one of the last developed nations in the world which doesn’t have an R18+ computer game rating or similar.

Under current legislation an R18+ rating for computer games in Australia can only be introduced with a unanimous decision of each state’s Attorney General.

“The Gillard Government wants to provide better guidance for parents and remove unsuitable material from children and teenagers,” Mr O’Connor said.

“The introduction of an R18+ classification will help achieve that and will also bring Australia into line with comparable nations.

“This issue has been on the table for many years, without the necessary progress to make a change.

“We’ve recently seen several states publicly express their support for an adult only rating for games and I’m keen to reach a unanimous decision at the July meeting.

“The draft guidelines make it clear that sexually explicit games or games with very frequent, strong and realistic violence will not be allowed in the MA15+ category.”

The draft guidelines will outline elements like violence, sex, drug use and nudity

The draft guidelines, which can be downloaded from here, outline various elements that would determine a game’s classification including themes, violence, sex, language, drug use and nudity.

Here is how the guidelines outlines each of these elements.

THEMES

– The treatment of themes should have a very low sense of threat or menace, and be justified by context.

VIOLENCE

– Violence should have only a low sense of threat or menace, and be justified by context.

– Sexual violence is not permitted.

SEX

– Sexual activity should be very mild and very discreetly implied, and be justified by context.

– Sexual activity must not be related to incentives or rewards.

LANGUAGE

– Coarse language should be very mild and infrequent, and be justified by context.

DRUG USE

Drug use should be implied only very discreetly, and be justified by context.

Drug use must not be related to incentives or rewards.

Interactive drug use that is detailed and realistic is not permitted.

NUDITY

Nudity should be justified by context.

Nudity must not be related to incentives or rewards.

Feedback from the public about the draft guidelines will be heard until June 22. This feedback will be collated and given to the ministers considering the matter in July.